Wood River Women's Foundation Sun Valley Ketchum Idaho
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Wood River Early learning collaborative

Contact information

Jill Grossman – WRWF, Media Relations: 415 990 7437
Louisa Moats – WRWF, Co-Chair Focus Grant 2022: 208 720 9096
Laura Midgley – WRWF, Co-Chair Focus Grant 2022: 208 551 0177
Amanda Watson, Founder + Partner – Atlas Strategic Communications: 208 407 8850
Beth Oppenheimer – Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children: 208 867 5611

April 6, 2022—Ketchum, ID—The Wood River Women’s Foundation (WRWF) and the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) today announced that they are partnering to establish the Wood River Valley-based Early Learning Collaborative. The purpose of the Early Learning Collaborative is to create an early education community for all young children, especially those from underserved families.Research shows the early years are a time of remarkable brain growth in children and lay the foundation for subsequent learning and development. Up-front investments in quality care and early education translate into direct returns for the State, our communities and society as a whole. The Idaho AEYC is the only organization in the state whose mission focuses on creating high-quality childcare and preschool programs that are accessible to all who need them. In 19 other communities, the Idaho AEYC has successfully mobilized and amplified local resources and talent to achieve transformational results in early children’s learning opportunities.

“Idaho AEYC respects and recognizes that each community’s early education needs and challenges are unique across the state,” said Beth Oppenheimer, Executive Director, Idaho AEYC. “The program development process—overseen by an Early Learning Advisory Council—involves diverse stakeholders who have a role in early childhood education and childcare. We are thrilled to partner with WRWF on taking the initiative to focus on this critical need in Blaine County.”

“Up to 45 percent of the Blaine County student body is of Hispanic origin and 23 percent of those students are emergent English speakers, meaning they have very little English when they enter school,” said Louisa Moats, WRWF Focus Grant 2022 Co-Chair and nationally recognized early learning and education expert. “According to the State’s classification system, 69 percent of White students in Blaine County are proficient in reading between kindergarten and 3rd grade, but only 33 percent of the Hispanic/Latino Spanish-speaking students meet those standards. Not only is the difference in Blaine County striking, it is most likely preventable.”

Idaho AEYC’s strategy during the first two years is four-fold:

  • First, convene an early learning advisory committee from various key stakeholder groups including the Blaine County School District, childcare centers, teachers, families, health care professionals, businesses, nonprofits and trusted leaders in the Hispanic community;
  • Next, gather and report data on existing services, such as the difference between needed and available services, the reasons why families do or do not have access to support or preschools and more;
  • Third, use the needs assessment to bolster successful programs and formulate a strategic action plan for future program development; and,
  • Fourth, promote best practices to support transitions between early childhood and K-12 schools.

“We know, through our experience, that the Wood River Women’s Foundation collective giving influence goes beyond the grants our organization awards,” said Laura Midgley, WRWF Focus Grant 2022 Co-Chair and expert on collective giving. “We encourage our entire community—and especially donors and funders—to join us in creating and supporting a much-needed culture of early learning that benefits all children in the Valley,” added Midgley.

“We are excited to join with the communities across Idaho who are celebrating the ‘Week of the Young Child’ with Idaho AEYC,” said Terri Bullock, President, Wood River Women’s Foundation. “We believe all young children should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. WRWF members are honored to make this significant investment in support of all local families.”

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates.

About Focus Grant 2022 (FG22)
FG22 is a special-purpose grant of up to $200,000 over a two-year period created to address a pressing need in the Wood River Valley. The grant is the culmination of several years of research and study by WRWF volunteer members and an all-member vote to choose the area of focus. In March of 2021, WRWF members chose “Closing the Opportunity Gap in Education.” The WRWF FG22 will award up to $100,000 in 2022 and an additional grant of up to $100,000 in 2023. For more information about FG22 click here.

About WRWF www.woodriverwomensfoundation.org
Since its founding in 2005, the WRWF has donated more than $3M to Blaine County nonprofits focused on the environment, health, recreation, the arts and social services. To date, the WRWF awarded more than $500K of grants to organizations addressing education on all grade levels throughout the Wood River Valley. For more information on 2022 pooled grants click here.

WRWF is a collective of 325+ women who pool their annual contribution of $1,000 to achieve greater community impact while advancing their philanthropic skills. All women are welcome to join, learn about the community, engage with the nonprofit applicants, and vote on the awards each year.

About Idaho AEYC www.idahoaeyc.org Since 2019, Idaho AEYC has been working with communities across Idaho to build a connective system of high-quality, early learning opportunities for Idaho’s youngest learners. Using a local collaborative model, leaders and stakeholders are coming together to improve access and affordability to quality care and early education to ensure our children are school-ready.

Supporting families and children means doing our part. Across Idaho, families struggle to afford and/or access early learning opportunities. The Early Learning Collaboratives, locally created and community-led, aim to address this issue by supporting communities with creating a governing body to support the early learning system, focusing on the whole child, whole family, whole community approach.